"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cafeteria Catholicism and the minimum wage

Stephen Bainbridge, Professor of Law at UCLA, has begun a series on how to distinguish the various levels of assent and respect Catholics must give to statements of the Magisterium. Here's how it begins:

When liberal Catholic politicians support abortion rights, conservatives are quick to accuse them of being cafeteria Catholics. When conservative Catholic politicians oppose increasing the minimum wage, liberals are quick to hurl the same accusation.

The metaphor is an apt one. Many Catholics stroll past the array of teachings offered by the Church, choosing to obey those that appeal to them personally and rejecting those that do not. Unfortunately for cafeteria Catholics, however, the Church makes clear that the cafeteria approach is not an authentic form of Catholicism. To the contrary, the faithful "have the duty of observing the constitutions and decrees conveyed by the legitimate authority of the Church." (Catechism ¶ 2037.)

At the same time, however, the Church encourages lay initiative "especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life." (Catechism ¶ 2037.) Clearly, there areas that the Church leaves to the prudential judgment of the faithful.

How do we distinguish between those areas in which faithful Catholics may properly disagree with pronouncements by the Pope or a bishop and those as to which faithful Catholics must give their assent even if their personal judgment is to the contrary?

Read it all. Hat tip to Pontifications.
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